Providence, Swedish announce health care alliance
October 25, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
The partnership between Providence Health & Services and Swedish Health Services links important organizations involved in Issaquah health care.
Executives at Renton-based Providence and Seattle-based Swedish said the economic slump prompted the decision, as health care centers treat more uninsured patients and government reimbursements shrink.
The organizations plan to combine resources to offer services, such as a common electronic health record for patients, at Providence and Swedish facilities throughout Western Washington.
Despite the organizations’ large footprints in the city — Providence Marianwood, a nursing home, and Swedish/Issaquah, a state-of-the-art hospital — executives said the impact to patients is minimal.
“The closer people are to receiving services, they’re really not going to see any impact,” said Kevin Brown, Swedish senior vice president and chief administrative officer. “Where we will see the benefit is by being part of a larger, regional network where we can coordinate care now in all of Western Washington.”
Executives said the relationship is not a merger or acquisition. Until federal regulators evaluate and sign off on the proposal, Providence and Swedish plan to operate independently.
The proposed alliance raised questions about abortion and physician-assisted suicide at Swedish facilities.
Providence, a Catholic organization, prohibits such procedures, although abortion is allowed if a woman’s life is in danger. Swedish is a secular entity. If the alliance is approved, Swedish plans to stop offering elective abortions.
Officials did not offer or plan to offer elective abortions at Swedish/Issaquah, but physicians intend to provide emergency abortions at the hospital.
Swedish executives said facilities in the health system plan to offer other birth-control services, such as tubal ligations, or sterilizations in women, and vasectomies, or sterilizations in men.
Under pressure from reproductive-rights groups, Swedish agreed to underwrite a Planned Parenthood clinic in a medical office building on the Swedish/First Hill campus.
The clinic is expected to open early next year.
Swedish does not participate in physician-assisted suicide.